MEYRICK, Sir Samuel Rush (1783-1848)
A Critical Inquiry into Antient Armour, as it Existed in Europe, particularly in Great Britain, from the Norman Conquest to the reign of King Charles II. Illustrated by a series of illuminated engravings. With a glossary of military terms of the Middle Ages ... Second edition, corrected and enlarged
London: Henry G. Bohn, 1842. 3 volumes, folio. (14 3/8 x 10 3/8 inches). Half-titles. Hand-coloured lithographic frontispiece to vol.I, 80 plates (70 hand-coloured aquatints, most heightened with gilt, 10 etched uncoloured plates), 27 large hand-coloured initials, most heightened with gilt.
Publisher's red half morocco over marbled paper-covered boards, the spines gilt in six compartments with raised bands, olive morocco lettering-pieces in the second compartment, brown morocco lettering-piece in the third, the others with repeated outer border decorations surrounding a single large tool: a helm in the first and sixth compartments, crossed swords in the fourth and a gauntlet and pair of spurs in the fifth, marbled endpapers, gilt edges
Provenance: John Gretton, 1st Baron Gretton (1867-1947, armorial bookplate)
An excellent set of the second and best edition of Meyrick's great work on arms and armour, with beautiful plates "as fine as the monuments of Westminster Abbey" (Edinburgh Review).
Prideaux writes that this "book is certainly superb." A contemporary review echoed this sentiment: "Sir Walter Scott justly describes this work as 'the incomparable Armoury.' 'This most superb archaeological work is animated with numerous novelties, curious and historical disquisitions, and brilliant and recondite learning - Learning going to Court in the full, rich costume of the Order of the Garter. - Plates as fine as the monuments of Westminster Abbey. Really and truly the work is admirably executed, and deserves every eulogy.' - Edinburgh Review." (quoted in Lowndes II, p.1541) First published in 1824, this work was one of the first to view the subject of ancient arms and armour from an historical perspective. The present second edition includes revised text and a new hand-coloured lithographic frontispiece to the first volume. The presentation is otherwise very similar to the first edition with both plates and initials hand-coloured and heightened with gold where necessary. As a whole the work is beautifully designed and printed. The plates and initial letters, which are expertly hand-coloured, are taken from copies of 'antient [sic.] seals, illuminations, painted glass, and monuments' (preface, p.xiv), whilst the author's intention for the whole work was that it should supply 'the general deficiency of information on the subject: to throw a glimpse of light over the rugged paths of the historian, to furnish dates to the antiquary, and to give vividness of truth to the efforts of painting, sculpture, and the drama' (preface, p.xiv).
Cf. Hiler p.587; Lipperheide Qb62 (2nd edition); Lowndes II, p.1541; cf. Prideaux p.322.